Helene Young's novels are an addictive mix of nail-biting tension and characters to emotionally invest in. Northern Heat is no exception, I c4.5 stars
Helene Young's novels are an addictive mix of nail-biting tension and characters to emotionally invest in. Northern Heat is no exception, I couldn't put it down, finishing in the wee hours ... the sleep deprivation was totally worth it.
Northern Heat is definitely a stand-alone novel but if you've read Safe Harbour you'll recognise Conor as the yachtsman pulled from wild seas. I didn't pick up on that from the synopsis but I was so happy to get more of Conor.
Kristy and Conor are two of my favourite characters; scarred by tragedy but strong, passionate and resilient. They're portrayed with depth and compassion and I was completely pulled in to their lives, cheering them on. Whilst the attraction between Conor and Kristy sparks immediately, I loved seeing their relationship play out naturally over time.
Helene tackles the subject of domestic violence with sensitivity, Kristy and Freya's story rang true for me and I read with my stomach churning and my heart in my mouth. The vivid descriptions of our Australian landscape show respect and appreciation of the harsh beauty and diversity, the challenges faced in remote areas, the weather extremes, from drought to devastating cyclones. Cyclone Kate bearing down on the community of Cooktown heightened an already tense plot ... talk about building to a crescendo.
It's no easy feat to advance a plot at a cracking pace without sacrificing character development and authenticity. Helene Young finds the perfect balance and makes it look effortless. A favourite read this year.
Readers were first introduced to Lauren Simpson in Jilted, not in a particularly favourable light I must say, I don't have time for spoilt bitches butReaders were first introduced to Lauren Simpson in Jilted, not in a particularly favourable light I must say, I don't have time for spoilt bitches but figured that somewhere underneath all the makeup was a decent person. She's a nurse, not that that's a given for decency but she's a deeply caring and highly skilled nurse so that's got to say something. Rachael Johns does a fabulous job of showing some of Lauren's more endearing qualities.
You probably don't have to read Jilted first but I really liked seeing the growth in Lauren's character, growth that was handled realistically, in a way that elicited empathy rather than eye-rolls ... not that I'd expect anything less from Rachael Johns. Besides I loved Jilted (Ellie and Flynn's story) so why miss out on a good thing.
The chemistry between Lauren and locum Dr Tom Lewis is evident from the start but like any new relationship they have their challenges ... emotion-charged issues and the highs and lows of living in a small community where everyone knows your business or thinks they do.
The sweetest part of this story and my favourite was Lauren and Tom's interactions with the elderly in the residential wing of the hospital ... now that was heart-melting good. And funny, Barbara and May cracked me up with their irreverent humour.
With trademark humour, passion and emotion I've come to expect from Rachael Johns, The Road to Hope is a lovely way to spend a few hours....more
We started with Ry and Julia's story in Nobody But Him, followed by their best friends Lizzie and Dan in Someone Like You. In the Boys of Summer finalWe started with Ry and Julia's story in Nobody But Him, followed by their best friends Lizzie and Dan in Someone Like You. In the Boys of Summer final installment we join Joe and Anna on their road to happiness. Of course there's roadblocks and wrong turns, because if there wasn't that would be kind of dull ... and Victoria Purman writes anything but dull.
Joe is Lizzie's brother and Anna, an old friend of Dan's ... they're both carrying hurt and a load of baggage but a night of alcohol-fueled-toe-curling-knock-your-socks-off-sex slowly grows into new beginnings and more toe-curling-knock-your-socks-off-sex a second chance at love.
What I've loved about this series from the beginning is the feel of Middle Point, this fictional coastal town on the beautiful Fleurieu Peninsula in South Australia feels real. So real you want to live there, join the community and be part of the Ry and Julia, Dan and Lizzie, Joe and Anna circle.
You really can't go wrong with this sexy, steamy, sweet, funny trilogy. I've loved spending time with these couples, getting to know them and care about them and I'm a little sad to say goodbye.
But bring on May 1st because Victoria Purman has a new novel out, Only We Know, set on the wildly beautiful Kangaroo Island. ...more
Wow Rachael Johns saves the best 'til last, Outback Ghost is my favourite of the Bunyip Bay series. I love a good romance but there's so much4.5 stars
Wow Rachael Johns saves the best 'til last, Outback Ghost is my favourite of the Bunyip Bay series. I love a good romance but there's so much more to love in Outback Ghost ... depth, layers, grief, loss, community; it's a really touching read.
I've felt for the Burton family since the disappearance of Adam Burton's young sister was first mentioned in Outback Dreams. When single mum Stella books the holiday cottage on Adam's farm to enjoy a much needed break and special time with her 7 year old daughter Heidi, the mystery slowly unravels.
Adam and Stella, *sigh* I loved their interactions, their chemistry and I really loved that there were no miscommunication issues providing conflict and drama. I loved that Adam saw Stella as a package, the way he related to Heidi was just adorable. And last but not least, I loved the joy that Heidi brought to Adam's mother's life, what a special relationship between Heidi and Esther.
'I've had sex' she told the cat proudly. 'Hot, messy, crazy, fabulous sex. With a man.' Not just any man but undoubtedly the hottest, sexiest man on the planet. Whiskers merely looked up and then turned her head and walked off in disgust. 'Might not be such a big thing for you,' Stella called out as the cat wandered back into the hallway, 'but this is monumental for me.'
The community really came together with love, support and acceptance in this final installment, a healing time ... and not just for the Burton family.
Outback Ghost will have you teary, sighing and smiling ... I loved it and I'm sad to say goodbye to Bunyip Bay.
Thanks to my friend Karen (who guest reviews on my blog, The Eclectic Reader) for raving about Maybe Someday and cheering when I finally picked up myThanks to my friend Karen (who guest reviews on my blog, The Eclectic Reader) for raving about Maybe Someday and cheering when I finally picked up my first Colleen Hoover novel. I'm so happy I did. Colleen Hoover's writing is smart and funny and sweet and refreshing and she's big on music.
I have a thing for stories with music.
Music has always played an important part in my life, it's my warm place and safe harbour, it connects people, it comforts, inspires and uplifts. Music plays an integral part in Maybe Someday, it's a character in itself and I LOVE that in a book. The unique thing about the music in Maybe Someday is, Sydney and Ridge write the lyrics, they connect through music, it's their way of communicating, expressing themselves, the music moves the story forward.
I loved what was happening between Sydney and Ridge, their dynamic, the humour, awkwardness, the sweet heart-skippy feeling it gave me. BUT it didn't sit well that Ridge was emotionally cheating on his girlfriend and I didn't buy into his bullshit justifications. It felt real, I might not have liked it (that's just me) but Colleen Hoover kept it real.
Maybe Someday is sensitive, emotional and surprisingly refreshing. I wish I could tell you why it is so refreshing but that would spoil things so just trust me and read it :)...more
Fun, fun, fun ... Risky Business is a winning combination of sizzle, sex and hilarity and Amy Andrews totally rocks the natural, laugh-out-loud dialogFun, fun, fun ... Risky Business is a winning combination of sizzle, sex and hilarity and Amy Andrews totally rocks the natural, laugh-out-loud dialogue.
I loved the contemporary setting, Brisbane (where I live) and even more perfect ... a book store, Birdie's secondhand romance bookstore *sighworthy* - the almost tangible smell of aged ink on weathered paper. And pepermint. Two aromas synonymous with the shop.
Sensible, career focused, romance reading Samantha, of the body image issues and talking, tap dancing eggs HA. And then there's sexy, risk-taking Nick. After Nick's grandmother Birdie passes away he swaps his extreme sports career for running the bookstore while he recuperates from injury.
Despite Nick and Samantha's instant attraction I loved how naturally things progressed between them. Samantha's many blind date dramas cracked me up, not to mention the whole vibrator, vodka, Tim Tam scene. As much as I cringed over her self-deprecating comments, I adored Nick for building her up.
Have to say I was deliriously happy for Samantha (and myself) when her eggs finally shut the hell up with their cheeping ;) ...more
Nora Roberts' The Witness (2012) was a 5 star listen for me this year so I just had to have The Collector on audio. I loved Julia Whelan's narration iNora Roberts' The Witness (2012) was a 5 star listen for me this year so I just had to have The Collector on audio. I loved Julia Whelan's narration in The Witness so ... can't really go wrong ... right?
I'm pretty good at suspending belief, this is after all fiction, but I did find the whole professional housesitter/writer (Lila) and artist (Ash) chasing down a contract killer, implausible and just a bit ridiculous. Baddie killing off the hero and heroine for their sheer stupidity would have been more realistic ... oops did I say that out loud.
That aside, I quite liked people-watching Lila and teapot poodle Earl Grey earns this one extra cuteness points. And for a lengthy book it doesn't drag at all ... good job on the narration Jennifer Whalen.
Despite some eye-rolling this was actually an enjoyable, easy listen, I didn't dislike the story but I didn't bother catching up on the few missed minutes ... grr annoying telemarketer.
Recommend: hmm ... for me it didn't come close to The Witness ...more
Evening Stars was a nice read but I wanted to love it. Huh, what am I saying ... I expected to love it. I fell in love with Blackberry Island3.5 stars
Evening Stars was a nice read but I wanted to love it. Huh, what am I saying ... I expected to love it. I fell in love with Blackberry Island while reading Barefoot Season and Three Sisters ... well I just fell in love.
I feel a bit mean, I liked Evening Stars but Three Sisters made me laugh and cry and sigh, I wanted to live next door, I wanted to be friends with Andi, Boston and Deanna. Held up against that, Evening Stars felt just a little lackluster.
Nina works as a nurse for Pediatrician Andi from Three Sisters. Nina has spent much of her life being the responsible one; from the age of nine, taking care of the house, younger sister Averil and her immature, irresponsible mother, Bonnie. She's spent so long putting others first, her sense of self has disappeared in obligation, lost dreams and resentment and she struggles with relinquishing control.
Character growth is at the centre of Evening Stars and that's something I love to see but sadly I didn't have an emotional connection with any of the characters. I liked them, except for Bonnie, Bonnie I wanted to slap. Bonnie needed her Peter Pan complex smacked right out of her!
I nearly forgot, there are guys ... Dylan and Kyle, they're instrumental to Nina's growth but the romance is almost secondary.
I liked it, I liked how things worked out and you should read it because you can't not read the final Blackberry Island book. And maybe you'll love it? Let me know ...
Looking forward to the Mischief Bay series....more
I fell in love with Helene Young's writing with Half Moon Bay so I was excited to get my hands on Safe Harbour ... yowsers, what an unputdow4.5 stars
I fell in love with Helene Young's writing with Half Moon Bay so I was excited to get my hands on Safe Harbour ... yowsers, what an unputdownable stay-up-all-night-nail-biter.
Safe Harbour is set in Banksia Cove, a small town on the Queensland coast not far from Bundaberg. I've spent some time in the Bundaberg/Bargara area and Helene pens not only the setting, but the characters, convincingly.
It's a story of long-held secrets and dark pasts, drugs in sports, marine rescue, cover-ups and corruption. When Darcy Fletcher and Noah Moreton rescue a yachtsman in wild seas they're completely unaware of a far more dangerous storm about to be unleashed.
There's a whole lot going on in Safe Harbour, it's a complex, multifaceted plot but character development isn't sacrificed for plot advancement. So, not only do you really get to know the main characters and care about what happens to them, you do it with your heart in your mouth.
I warmed to Darcy immediately and I might have crushed a bit on local police officer Noah ... the chemistry between Noah and Darcy is undeniable, I swear if they hadn't got it together I would have slapped some sense into them. I loved Rosie, the aboriginal woman who was practically a second mother to Darcy. Rosie's connection to the land, her family and the whales was truly special and beautifully written.
Recommend: In a heartbeat. Suspense keeps the pages turning but it's the relationships you remember. ...more
Sweet, flirty, fun but like The January Wish, there's also substance and I'm really enjoying that combination.
We follow single mum Chrissie, 6 year oSweet, flirty, fun but like The January Wish, there's also substance and I'm really enjoying that combination.
We follow single mum Chrissie, 6 year old Kai and celebrity singer/songwriter Drew Williams, current VIP client at Serendipity Retreat. It was nice getting to know Chrissie and Drew as they opened up to each other; Drew, very likable and down to earth despite 'stardom' and Chrissie, working hard to put the past in the past, making a life for herself and her son.
February or Forever is more romantic than it's predecessor, Chrissie and Drew share some really sweet, tender times and sigh-worthy moments. I also enjoyed the focus on friendship, trust and second chances.
I would have liked to see a little more of the characters from The January Wish, there's just a glimpse but it does mean that February or Forever works well as a stand-alone.
A lovely few hours of romantic escapism, definitely one that will leave you with a smile on your face. Up next Miracle in March. ...more
The January Wish is a sweet, easy read but not without substance, likable characters with interesting back stories round out the story.
The January Wish is a sweet, easy read but not without substance, likable characters with interesting back stories round out the story.
Sylvia's ordered life takes a leap into new territory when she makes a wish at the Tarrin's Bay Wishing Festival and Grace, the daughter she gave up for adoption re-enters her life. I was surprised by how much I liked Sylvia and her obsessive, controlling personality, she does manage to keep her 'uptight' under tight rein but it was nice to see her relax a bit over the course of the novel. I warmed to newly arrived naturopath Mark immediately but Grace was my favourite ... a fresh, spring breeze.
Slow blossoming romance is not the sole focus of the story, there's relationship growth for a number of a key characters, at the forefront Sylvia and Grace. My only complaint; stilted dialogue interrupted the easy flow of the story just a little.
I loved the setting, it was so easy to picture the small coastal town of Tarrin's Bay with the quirky Mrs May's Bookstore and upbeat Cafe Lagoon.
My first time reading Australian author Juliet Madison but I'm already looking forward to February Or Forever. Fingers crossed we get to stay in touch with these characters as the series progresses. ...more
I fell in love with the small fictional beachside town of Middle Point on the beautiful Fleurieu Peninsula in South Australia after reading t4.5 stars
I fell in love with the small fictional beachside town of Middle Point on the beautiful Fleurieu Peninsula in South Australia after reading the 1st book in Victoria Purman's Boys of Summer trilogy, Nobody But Him. Nobody But Him was Ry and Julia's story and now it's their best friends turn ... I waited with heart-skippy anticipation for Lizzie & Dan's story and what a gorgeous read for the romantic month of February.
Lizzie is one of those women you want as your best friend; loyal, protective, funny, compassionate, loving, frustrating, endearing. Actually I have a best friend just like her.
Following an accident he was very lucky to survive, Dan covers his fragility with belligerence and reclusiveness. The initial spark of attraction Dan & Lizzie shared in Nobody But Him is still there, there's an undercurrent of desire that takes some time to grow into more ... but when it does, oh it's worth the wait.
I love that Victoria Purman keeps the plot tight, of course there are issues and obstacles, it's not a straight path to HEA but it never becomes melodramatic.
I was also really happy to spend time catching up with Ry and Julia, gave me warm fuzzies watching them glow with happiness and love and their mutual "Operation Dan" rescue mission was both heartwarming and amusing.
Someone Like You is the very reason I love romance ... chocolate for the soul.
I'm taking a guess that Lizzie's brother Joe gets his own story next; will it be with Anna? Write faster Victoria Purman ;)
Recommend: a heart-skippy YES
Cover: Gorgeous! I'm sure this series has a cover fairy. ...more
I'm blaming Kathryn @ Book Date for this one HA, Ainslie Paton is an Australian author I hadn't read or even heard of until I read Kathryn's review ofI'm blaming Kathryn @ Book Date for this one HA, Ainslie Paton is an Australian author I hadn't read or even heard of until I read Kathryn's review of Detained. This is story that benefits from going in 'blind' so I'm not going to give much away. Let me just say I was expecting one thing and got a whole lot more.
Journalist Darcy Campbell has just snagged a career making interview with the reclusive Will Parker, Australian billionaire entrepreneur living in Shanghai. I loved both characters, far from cookie cutter perfect, fascinating back-stories, believable.
Detained has quite an erotic start, I'm actually surprised I wasn't rolling my eyes muttering *unbelievable* ... far from it. I was sucked in ... hooked on the danger and hotness. And if that isn't enough to get your heart racing, top notch character development is backed up by a story with depth and bucket loads of emotion. Detained has it all ... in spades. It's intense and edgy and sexy as all hell.
I'll definitely be reading more from Ainslie Paton :)...more
My first Christmassy read for the holiday season! After enjoying Man Drought & Outback Dreams, I'm totally on board as a Rachael Johns' f3.5 stars
My first Christmassy read for the holiday season! After enjoying Man Drought & Outback Dreams, I'm totally on board as a Rachael Johns' fan. The Kissing Season is a sweet romance with a lovely splash of Australian family Christmas tradition.
No question about it Hannah & Matteo are hot together, I wasn't a fan of their first meeting; (I'm not a prude, at all, but my first thought was ... ewww who does that??) I felt like it was included to push the plot forward when it really didn't need a shove.
Besides that minor detail, the progression in Hannah and Matt's relationship from that point on was sweet and sexy. I loved the importance of family to them both and I loved the Australian flavour of Christmas in a small community ... the Christmas movie in the town hall, Santa, carols and stalls at the Christmas Tree Party ... nostalgic memories of Christmas spent with my Nana & Pop in a small rural town.
Recommend: Nostalgic escapism and a quick romance fix...more
If you haven't read Jill Shalvis' Animal Magnetism series you are seriously missing out.
5 reasons Not to Miss Out
1. To quote veterinary intern Emily,If you haven't read Jill Shalvis' Animal Magnetism series you are seriously missing out.
5 reasons Not to Miss Out
1. To quote veterinary intern Emily, Hot guys and animals ... a damn fine combination. Who doesn't melt when a tough guy makes kissy-kiss noises at an animal?
2. Off-the-charts sexy, alpha males - vet Wyatt is no exception, he's just quietly sexy and he wears t-shirts with cute, dorky sayings - 50% Vet, 50% Superhero. Vets Do It With a Lot of Heavy Petting.
3. Cute animals ... I fall in love with them every time, distinct personalities and just as important as the human characters.
Peanut, gotta love a parrot with a dirty mouth squawking "boner" Gertie, the huge, slobbering, lovable Saint Bernard Q-Tip, adorable grumpy cat
"Meow" "Let me guess," Emily said, dropping her purse and crouching to pet the cat. "You're hungry." Q-Tip bit her ankle. Emily hissed out a breath and stood up. "I'm changing your name to Satan."
4. sweet, sexy, funny, low angsty romance.
5. Did I mention hot sex?
“Was I loud?” Wyatt leaned over her and kissed her worried mouth. “I don’t know.” “How could you not know, you were right here.” He grinned. “Well, the first time, your legs were around my ears, so I couldn’t hear.”
Oh who am I kidding, I can't stop at 5
6. Returning to Belle Haven veterinary clinic is like coming home. Guess it doesn't hurt that we get to drool over catch up with Adam, Dell and Brady again.
7. Laughs, there are always laughs.
8. Hot sex ... it's worth mentioning twice.
9. Jill Shalvis is the Queen of Feel-Good.
Not my favourite but another great installment in this fantabulous series. Maybe the next book will be about Wyatt's sister Darcy and physical therapist AJ Colten ... fingers crossed!
Jill writes the funniest blog and posts plenty of eye candy on her facebook page. I'm talking serious eye candy, the kind that will have you licking your computer screen, not that I'm speaking from experience. ...more
I loved, loved, loved the setting, the small fictional beachside town of Middle Point on the beautiful Fleurieu Peninsula in South Australia. And youI loved, loved, loved the setting, the small fictional beachside town of Middle Point on the beautiful Fleurieu Peninsula in South Australia. And you don't need to have been to know, Victoria Purman's descriptions are so vivid, you can feel the sea breeze as you take in the stunning view, taste the salt, smell the coast. It's a Sea Change without leaving your loungeroom.
Julia Jones is back in Middle Point to settle her mother's estate and running into her old love Ry Blackburn, plays havoc with her head and heart. Sizzling chemistry mixed with nostalgia, hurt, regret and mistrust, what a melting pot of unresolved history.
Despite Julia having a chip on her shoulder that made me want to give her a good slap, I enjoyed her growth over the course of the book, she wasn't afraid to take an honest look at herself, her perceptions and prejudices and make decisions on what was really important in life. Both Ry and Julia felt very real to me and Victoria Purman sure knows how to turn up the heat, those steamy sex scenes weren't a hardship to read ... nope, not at all.
Nor does the author skimp on minor characters or friendships (I loved Lizzie's humour and loyalty) or the challenges facing residents in a small coastal town, their survival dependent on the influx of holiday season tourists. Kudos to Victoria Purman for a debut novel that feels like a breath of fresh air.
What more could you want?... sand, sea, surf, good love, good friends and good wine. *Sigh* ... idyllic.
Up next in the Boys of Summer trilogy, Dan & Lizzie, I like them already and can't wait to watch their story unfold.
After enjoying Man Drought earlier this year I was excited to get an ARC of Outback Dreams; Rachael Johns is fast becoming a voice to be reckoned withAfter enjoying Man Drought earlier this year I was excited to get an ARC of Outback Dreams; Rachael Johns is fast becoming a voice to be reckoned with on the contemporary romance scene.
Faith and Monty have been the best of mates since forever; they're down to earth, with dreams, fears, jealousies and insecurities, facing real issues, dealing with real emotions in this wonderful, friends to lovers story. I loved that there was a slow awakening for these two, but once awake, wow did the chemistry spark!
There was so much else to like: Rachael's vivid writing makes you feel part of the small farming community, I enjoyed the meatier issues surrounding family dynamics and autism and I like how Faith and Ruby's friendship developed. I love that Faith bakes, I love the whole love on a plate thing, I'm going to hunt down a recipe for her famous custard and white choc-chip cookies (don't worry, I'll share lol) and last of all I'm a big fan of the never-give-up-on-your-dream attitude.
Outback Dreams is sweet and funny and real and I love that Rachael is setting a series in the small rural town of Bunyip Bay. Can't wait to revisit and see what's in store for Ruby and Drew? in Outback Blaze.
Rachael Johns may soon be my "Kristan Higgins Crush" ... Australian style.
Recommend: A delightful friends to lovers romance. ...more